Happy Groundhog’s Day!
Chronologically speaking, the first day of spring occurs on March 20th. That is the day which daytime and night time are approximately equal. It is also known as the Spring Equinox. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, (six weeks before March 20th) there will be six more weeks of winter. However, if he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring. Thus far, the groundhog has been correct 100% of the time. Hmmm… interesting!
Groundhog Weather School written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Kristin Sorra (2009)
Groundhog predicts spring, but Rabbit is disappointed to still see snow, so he writes Groundhog a letter. Maybe Groundhog needs helpers… after all it is hard to predict the weather all over North America from just one place. Groundhog agrees. He puts an ad in the newspaper for Weather School. Groundhogs (and one skunk) attend Weather School. They learn about groundhogs, geography, weather, burrows, seasons, and shadows. Finally, comes the big day… graduation! They each get a diploma and a reminder to set their clocks for February 2nd. The big day arrives and almost every groundhog sees its shadow, winter will last six more weeks. Rabbit gets his snow gear ready and rushes outside… warm sun and green grass, it must be really really hard to predict the weather.
Substitute Groundhog written by Pat Miller and illustrated by Kathi Ember (2006)
Groundhog has come down with a cold, and just days before his big job! He knows he can’t do the job himself, so he interviews his friends to be a substitute Groundhog for a day. Bear fell asleep, Mole couldn’t see very well, Eagle didn’t like small holes, Squirrel kept popping up and down in the hole but kept forgetting to look for his shadow. Finally, Groundhog met a stranger, Armadillo. Armadillo was here from Texas visiting his cousin Badger. Armadillo was perfect for the job. On Groundhog’s Day, Armadillo came out of the hole, saw her shadow, and announced that there would be six more weeks of winter. Groundhog was disappointed, he was hoping for an early spring to help him get over his cold. So Armadillo suggested Groundhog come home with her to Texas where it was already spring!
Punxsutawney Phyllis written by Leonard Hill and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler (2005)
Phyllis the groundhog loved winter. In fact she pretty much enjoyed all the seasons. One day, Phyllis announced that she was going to grow up to be Punxsutawney Phil. But all the grown-ups laughed. Punxsutawney Phil was a fellow! The very next Groundhog’s Day, Uncle Phil slept in. Grandfather Groundhog said Uncle Phil was getting too old to do the job. Finally Uncle Phil got up. Phyllis offered to do the job for him, but Uncle Phil had too many excuses as to why she couldn’t it. Phyllis went up with Uncle Phil. Six more weeks of winter, he proclaimed. But Phyllis disagreed. She encouraged him to listen to the water running in the brook and the chickadees singing their spring song, and feel the westerly wind blowing. Phyllis was right! Spring was on its way. First, Uncle Phil announced that there was going to be an early spring and then that Phyllis was going to replace him as the next weatherperson!
Do you want to learn more about groundhogs? Try one of these great non-fiction picture books.
Groundhog Day written by Clara Cella (2012)
Groundhog Day! written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons (2006)
The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun written by Wendie Old and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (2004)